I’m not very popular over at the Turner Propane offices this week.
On Feb. 25, we ran a letter from Alice Susyzinski about getting charged sales tax for propane even though she had been a permanent June Lake resident for two years (reprinted below).
This sparked a firestorm of calls to the Turner office.
While Susyzinski was correct in her particular dispute, her case does not have universal application.
As I understand it, and believe me, it’s more complicated than I thought, bulk delivery customers with billing addresses outside the area who have not filed tax exemption forms will be charged sales tax.
However, when new customers sign up for service, Turner, though it is not required to, generally advises folks (if their permanent residence is local) to apply for an exemption and walks them through the paperwork.
In short, your gas company is not out to get you.
But it’s also not their responsibility to babysit you and make sure you have filed whatever paperwork needs to be filed.
Turner is happy to answer all your questions and concerns. But when you call, be patient, don’t jump to conclusions, and check your bill beforehand. There are other taxes charged besides property tax (such as the Utility Users Tax).
I apologize to Turner for printing the letter without a broader explanation of applicable rules.
Alice Suszynski letter from Feb. 25
I may be the only person in the area with this problem but on the off chance that I’m not, I thought I’d give The Sheet a shout.
Did you know that in California, if you are a full time resident of the home for which you are purchasing propane, you are not required to pay sales tax? I didn’t, until about about two years into my residency in June Lake and I fought tooth and nail to get a refund from Amerigas for the sales tax I had been charged erroneously. Why didn’t I know this? No one told me until my friend mentioned it.
Now I have changed to Turner Propane and I got my first bill. There was a sales tax applied. I called the office and the person who answered the phone told me that the charge was correct. I said “au contraire” and she put me through to the supervisor who confirmed what I already knew (see above). Of course the will be reversing the charge but here’s the kicker: it’s the company’s default position to assume everyone in this area is a second homeowner. You kind of have to know the rules already to apply for the exemption. I was told this after being on hold for some time, listening to a recording about Turner’s great customer service.
So unless you’re already way smarter than I and know you are not being charged, take out your bill and look!